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...And Phoenix will rise

It is hard to miss the party that is the NBA All-Star weekend if you're in Phoenix and Thursday was just the start. Stretching over three days, the All-Star weekend is unquestionably one of the most eagerly awaited events in American sport, reports Sahil Sharma.

india Updated: Feb 14, 2009 13:13 IST
Sahil Sharma

The unmistakable beats of hip-hop moguls Kanye West and Eminem can be heard just about everywhere in and around the United States Airways Centre. It is hard to miss the party that is the NBA All-Star weekend if you're in Phoenix and Thursday was just the start. Stretching over three days, the All-Star weekend is unquestionably one of the most eagerly awaited events in American sport.

With the bitter chill of winter making way for spring, the city has all the more reason to have a ball, and that is exactly what it is doing. The celebrations kicked off with a little bit of gaming, with people of all ages trying their hand at the hit game 'NBA 2009'. No sooner had the excitement subsided than the next course was ready.

With NBA Commissioner David Stern officially opening the weekend, fans, wearing their favourite star's shirts, were seen making a beeline for a front-row seat to the jam session and the All Star Block Party.

The Harlem Globetrotters were the original all-stars, a team with a penchant for the flair and flamboyant, playing exhibition matches all over and enthralling the crowd with their eye-catching moves.

And that is exactly what they did at the jam session on Thursday too, performing breathtaking tricks with uncanny ease as well as teaching the kids a trick or two.

"Since our formation in 1926, the Globetrotters have had a legacy. We realize our duties but are also aware of our responsibilities. We have to set the right example and spread basketball globally," said Trotter member Special K.

The organizers had expected almost 100,000 fans to be part of the jam session on Thursday, a figure, by the looks of it, could well have been crossed.

Let the games begin!

Return of Shaq-Bryant

AP adds from Phoenix: The NBA All-Star game will see the return of the Shaquille O'Neal-Kobe Bryant pairing that once dominated league headlines, on and off the court. Together they led the Los Angeles Lakers to three straight championships and four finals berths in five years, but that success was eventually overshadowed by the bickering that triggered their breakup.

On Sunday they'll be on the same team for the first time since the 2004 NBA finals, when the Lakers were knocked off by Detroit.